Kip's Corner : 2005-2006 WRAP UP EDITION

Another year of Bearcat Hoop drew to a close last Thursday night, as Willamette University's Men's Basketball team fell in the NWC semifinals, 69-66 in Spokane, WA to the Whitworth Pirates. Coach Gordie James club finished the year at 17-8 (13-4), including 3 defeats at the hands of the rival Pirates of Whitworth. WU finished the season in a tie for 2nd place, one game behind the University of Puget Sound, NWC champions for the third consecutive year (and NCAA tournament representatives, as the Loggers held off Whitworth 94-86 in the NWC title game Saturday night).

WHAT WENT RIGHT IN '05-'06

- WU finished the regular season leading the NWC in FG and 3 pt. FG% defense, and allowed the fewest points per game in the league (69.3).

- Offensively, WU finished #1 in FG% and #2 from behind the 3-point line, shooting 51% and 40%, respectively. The Bearcats also handed out the most assists in the NWC at almost 17 per game (16.92).

- Willamette finished 16-4 in the NCAA DIII West Region, and lost to only two DIII opponents all year long (Whitworth, UPS)

- The seventeen wins by this edition of Bearcat Hoop tied with the 2003-2004 club for 2nd most this decade, trailing only the 2002-2003 team that won 19 games.

- Willamette received votes for the D3hoops.com Top 25 for the first time since being ranked #25 for one week in 2002.

- Senior John Olinger had one of the finest individual seasons in recent Bearcat History, earning 1st Team-ALL NWC honors.

- Junior CJ Stuvland parlayed a huge conference season into his own 1st Team-ALL NWC selection (Stuvland and Olinger follow in the footsteps of Marques Johnson and Ryan Hepp ('02-'03) as teammates to earn first team honors in the same year this decade.)

- Olinger surpassed the career 1,000 point scoring mark, becoming the first Bearcat to do so since Johnson and Hepp in February, 2003.

- Sophomore co-captain Josh Erickson returned from two ACL injuries to become a vital cog in the team's rotation.

- Seniors Drew Miller finished #2 in the NWC in 3 pt. FG%.

- Senior Jason Luchterhand turned in a stellar conference season, averaging nearly 11 points and 7 rebounds per game.

- Senior posts Jacob Baran and Brennan Garrelts gave strong minutes in differing roles, each producing quality play in key games.

- Sophomore Ian Mansfield and freshman David Fife showed signs of great things to come in the 2006-2007 campaign.


THINGS TO IMPROVE ON IN '07

- Willamette loses a stellar senior class, and must receive production from returning players in new roles.

- Willamette lost 3 times to arch rival Whitworth, and has lost 6 in a row to the Pirates (in addition, Whitworth is now 3-0 vs. the Bearcats in the NWC tournament).

- While finishing 7-1 at Cone Fieldhouse (and leading the league in home attendance), WU failed to find a way to host a post-season game.

- Willamette lost two huge February games, @UPS (in what was the conference regular season title game) and @ Whitworth (in the NWC semifinals).

- Willamette has now missed out on the NCAA tournament each year since becoming a full fledged DIII member in 1998.

CORNER'S FINAL THOUGHTS

As always, it has been a joy bringing Bearcat fans across the country up to date stats, info, and thoughts on the 2005-2006 season. The Corner would like to thank and commend the seniors from this year's class for their commitment to guiding the program to the best of their abilities, and wishes them luck as they move on to the next phases in their lives.

For those of you interested in Bearcat information during the off-season, continue to check the WU athletic homepage for tidbits here and there throughout the upcoming months. Amazingly, tip-off is just under 8 months away!

GO BEARCATS!